People of Hispanic or Latino descent have overtaken African-Americans as Chicago’s second-largest racial or ethnic group, according to U.S. Census data released on Thursday.
The city’s Hispanic population jumped from about 786,000 in 2015 to more than 803,000 in 2016, accounting for 29.7 percent of the city’s 2.7 million residents, the data shows.
The black population shrunk by more than 42,000 residents down to about 792,000 last year, and now make up 29.3 percent of the city’s population. Whites make up the city’s largest racial group at nearly 882,000, or 32.6 percent of city residents.
Alden Loury, director of research and evaluation at the Metropolitan Planning Council, cautioned that Census data includes “a healthy margin of error.” Experts had expected the Hispanic population to overtake the black population in Chicago, but not this soon, he said.
It’s the first time the Hispanic population has ranked second in the city, and it’s thought to be the first time in at least 50 years that the number of black residents has dipped below 800,000, according to Loury.
“The Latino community has been bolstered by healthy business development and growth, with strong economic centers in Little Village and elsewhere on the Southwest Side,” Loury said.
“We’ve seen nearly the exact opposite for the deeply segregated black neighborhoods on the South and West sides,” Loury said, adding that the city’s historically violent 2016 likely affected the plunging black population, which previously declined by more than 180,000 between 2000 and 2010.
“This is just the start,” Loury said. “Ten, 20 years down the line, we could be having a very different conversation, about Hispanics possibly being the largest in the city.”